The Supreme Court Friday said it would hear on February 8 the plea filed by MBBS students seeking postponement of the National
Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) scheduled to be held on March 12 for admissions to post graduate medical courses.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant said it has come to know in the afternoon that they have postponed the examination for of 6-8 weeks. Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the six students who have filed the petition, said that postponement of the exam by 6-8 weeks only impacted the larger relief sought by the petitioners but still some issues remain.
He said the issue was that deadline of May 31, 2022 has been fixed for completion of one year internship which was difficult to meet as the doctors after an announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have got engaged in COVID duty.
Sankaranarayanan said that pursuant to the Prime Minister’s announcement circulars were issued by various colleges and these doctors joined as frontline workers for COVID duties. He pointed out to the bench that the last date for filling the application for the students has been fixed February 4.
The bench said, “We can always extend the deadline but we would like to hear the other side also”.
It asked Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre in some other matter, to take instructions with regard to relief sought by the MBBS students. Jain said he was to appear in some other matter and if no one is there for the Centre, he will seek instructions and inform the court on Monday or Tuesday. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, also appearing for the students, suggested that the court take up the matter on February 8 at 2pm.
The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on next Tuesday, February 8. The petitioners Shivam Satyarthee and others in their plea filed through Dubey Law Chambers have claimed that many MBBS graduates would not be able to take up the examination due to non-completion of mandatory internship period.
They sought a direction to the National Board of Examination to defer the scheduled test until various requirements, such as completion of mandatory internship period, set forth in the PG Regulations, are met by many aspirants.
One of the NEET PG regulations said that 30 beds of a hospital have to be assigned to one unit of students pursuing the PG course and now two students of two academic sessions will have to be accommodated in the same facility. The petition raises a challenge to the violation of NEET PG Regulations, 2000, while admitting candidates for academic sessions in one session as there is an “explicit cap on the number of PG admissions to be done per year per unit”, a lawyer of the firm said.
Several hundred MBBS graduates, whose internship got halted due to their duty in tackling COVID-19 pandemic, would be rendered ineligible from appearing in the NEET-PG test due to lack of mandatory internship duty that too without their fault, the plea said while seeking deferment of the test. It referred to the statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 3 last year to postpone NEET-PG 2021 by at least four months and the fact that the services of final year MBBS doctors will be utilised to handle mild Covid cases.
The plea challenges the condition provided in the information bulletin which provides for a deadline of May 31, 2022 for completion of internship. “The petitioners (with 1500 candidates) have mentioned that they were in Covid duties in the year 2021 and therefore their internship was postponed. They have submitted that they are victims of circumstances and that they were not informed at any time that serving in Covid duties would tantamount to a situation where they will not be eligible to appear for the NEET-PG,” advocate Tanvi Dubey said.
The plea has sought an extension of the deadline of completion of internship from May 31. The apex court, on January 7, had paved the way for starting the stalled NEET-PG 2021 counselling process based on the existing 27 per cent OBC and 10 per cent EWS reservations in the All India Quota seats, saying there is an “urgent need” to begin the admission process.
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